How to Identify Cuts of Beef and Where They Come From

What is the best cut of beef? Many of us are lost when we get to the butcher’s, or even the grocery. This article identifies the different kinds and where they come from.

Rib-Eye or Chuck

Chuck and rib-eye are cut from the same muscle. The only difference is that chuck has no bones in it and is half the price. Season with salt and pepper and it ready to go on the grill! Rib-eye and chuck are cut from the section of ribs 6-12. Trimmings and some whole boneless chucks are ground for hamburgers. Rib contains the short ribs and the prime rib.

T Bone and Porterhouse Steak

T bone and porterhouse steaks are cut from short loin. Because of large size and the fact that they come from the location of the two most prized cuts (short loin and tenderloin) T bone steaks are generally thought of as one of the highest quality steaks. Porterhouse steaks are even more highly valued because they are larger. T bone and porterhouse steaks are best for fast, dry heat cooking like grilling or broiling. Longer cooking times are not needed to tenderize meat. It also cooks more evenly and does not dry and shrink as much due to the bone conduction of heat.

Flap Steak

This is like a large skirt steak, so is thicker. It is generally bigger, and so good for groups. Muscles run up and down, so to prepare slice cross against grain to cut into sections. A regular skirt steak is generally used for fajitas. Flap steak comes from a bottom sirloin butt cut. It is generally a thin steak–it is sometimes called sirloin tips. It is sometimes confused with hanger steak because both are cut thin.


As you could expect, the tri-tip is triangular. It is also great for groups. Be careful, though–it’s shape lends itself to get less cooked in one place and fully cooked in another on the grill. Then again, that may be what you want. The tri tip or steak (triangle roast) is the 1.5-2.5 pounds of meat that sits at the bottom of the sirloin. It has a rich flavor and tends to be lower in fat than other cuts.

Denver Steak

This is a great beefy bite! There is some fat marbled in but not too much. This is a very versatile cut. A Denver steak is an increasingly popular steak that comes fro the primal cut of beef chuck cut. It is tender, with a nice beefy flavor, and has a good amount of marbling. Cut is from the shoulder (which gets a lot of exercise).


Brisket is usually used for barbecue, corned beef or pastrami. It is cut from the breast or lower chest of beef. These muscles support about 60% of body weight of cattle, and so has much connective tissue. It must be cooked correctly to tenderize the connective tissue. Popular cooking methods are spic rub, marinating, then cooking slowly over indirect heat such as slow cooker or barbeque or smoking. In a slow cooker, this is 8 hours for 3 pounds.

Related Posts